Faces in the Street

Urban Mental Health and Wellbeing Research Institute

'Faces in the Street,' the Urban Mental Health and Wellbeing Research Institute was established in 2010 at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. 

The key focus of our research is to identify opportunities to maximise wellbeing and prevent mental illness in urban environments and translate research findings into practice. 


There is evidence of a strong association between socioeconomic status and the health of the population residing in that neighbourhood, with income affecting individuals’ (and populations’) health status, opportunities to survive and thrive, including access to health care and other social services. 

The residents of low income neighbourhoods have more limited access to the social determinants of health – education, secure housing, secure employment, transport, and nutritious food (for example). They are also less likely to be socially and politically connected (horizontal and vertical social capital), and less likely to be confident about seeking or demanding the services and opportunities they need to achieve and maintain good health and wellbeing. They are also less likely to have resources and capacity necessary to develop collective agendas for positive changes in their environments and access to services, and/or to influence public policy or program decisions. 

Currently there is a drive at a national level to increase social inclusion, information and access to services. This goes beyond mental health and should also include physical health, accommodation, the right to lead a meaningful life, including the right to work, where possible. Thus, the projects all build towards these basic principles: Recovery principles to build social capital, translating research to practice and address social determinants of physical and mental health. 

Our Vision 

As an urban mental health and wellbeing research centre, Faces in the Street, aims to become a centre of excellence in translational urban mental health research, using both a public health focus (targeting groups) and clinical focus (targeting individuals). 

Our vision is to 

  • understand factors with the potential to improve mental health and wellbeing in individuals and communities living in urban environments, especially for socially and economically disadvantaged groups 
  • determine the most effective ways to meet these needs and promote the mental health and wellbeing of those living in urban areas 

  • through high quality translational research, to inform policy and mental health service provision 

  • to enable an environment within the Mental Health Service where the Institute supports and enables research and evaluation to be a seamless part of the Inner City Health Program, which in turn is able to attract and maintain staff who are committed to these values

Our Projects